Chapter 106: Harsh Training
Translated by Gumihou
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“That’s enough. Please rest, your highness.”
Seeing Jiang Changyue gasping for breath, his clothes all soaking with sweat, Duan Tingxuan dare not push him further. Even though it was now close to evening, the day was still warm enough that the crown prince had gotten all flushed and sweaty after running a lap and half around the small courtyard. This was far below what he hoped to achieve today, but… well, he can’t expect miracles to happen over night, right? Better to build his highness’ endurance slowly.
The crown prince collapsed in place at this announcement. He glared at Duan Tingxuan who was still holding that slim willow stick and ground out, “You sure have guts, still know to address me as the crown prince…” then his eyes zeroed in on the teapot in Duan Tingxuan’s hand. A blink later he coughed and feigned disinterest as he said haughtily, “Don’t think that I’d just forgive you over a pot of wine.”
“Who says anything about wine? The emperor and empress will have my head if I give you wine.” Duan Tingxuan smirked. He poured out a large bowl of the liquid and handed it over. “This is cooling tea, have a taste.”
“You might as well give me a bowl of plain water. This cooling tea might just send me over to the yellow river just from the stink, you know? I only drink those as medicine, it stinks even more than Huoxiang Zhenqi Liquid.”
The crown prince stared fearfully at the large bowl. If he hadn’t ran out of strength already, he would have done his best to crawl away from that foul thing. Duan Tingxuan grinned down at him, “You really don’t want it? Don’t blame me for not telling you, when Nuan Nuan heard of your highness’ attempt to slim down, she made this special cooling tea just for you. As you know, she…”
He hadn’t finished speaking when the crown prince stretched out one large paw. Duan Tingxuan helpfully placed the bowl onto the trembling hand and watched as the crown prince took in a large gulp. After swallowing down, the crown prince smacked his lips and laughed, “Delicious, very delicious. It’s sweet and cooling at the same time. Now this is what cooling tea should be like! Not bad, not bad, this is incredibly good. As expected of cousin-in-law.”
As he spoke, he drank down the rest of the tea. He was still singing praises when someone called out, “Brother crown prince, we’re here to see you. Well? We heard that imperial father had sent out an edict to get Tingxuan to train you up. We’re here to see what you and Tingxuan are up to now.”
Both crown prince and Duan Tingxuan turned, and saw second prince, Jiang Changning and fourth prince, Jiang Changjing coming in together. Among all the other princes, these two got along with the crown prince best. Seeing the crown prince sitting on the floor, his two silk shirts nearly transparent with sweat, both reared back with surprise. Though they both were mentally prepared to see their brother sweat a bit, they were still shocked. “Tingxuan you beast, he’s too cruel, ah. Just what kind of horrible training has he put you through?”
“I’m really exhausted, but it’s still not too bad. Luckily I have this cooling tea as a reward. Unlike those rubbish sold on the street, this is made by cousin-in-law. It’s very good, try some.” the crown prince gestured over to Duan Tingxuan, and was taken aback by the sight of the little marquis clutching the teapot like a precious baby to his bosom. He snorted, “What are you hugging that for? It’s not even a maiden, why haven’t you poured any for your brothers yet?”
Duan Tingxuan sneered, “I don’t think that’s necessary at all. After all, as my cousins aptly said, I am a beast. How could a beast be willing to associate with these lofty humans?”
Jiang Changning and Jiang Changjing stepped forward together, but when Duan Tingxuan showed no fear, their eyebrows twitched. Duan Tingxuan grinned slyly at them, “Well? Are these two brothers of mine going to snatch this from me by force?”
Unlike the fat crown prince, the second and fourth princes have some skills with martial arts. The princes weighed their chances against Duan Tingxuan, and finally decided that it was not worth it. Who ask this brat to be so overwhelmingly talented? Finally, Jiang Changning coughed and said lightly, “A joke, surely a dignified son of a noble family could take a joke? Also, how would we dare to use force against such a man? Sir Duan…”
He hadn’t finished speaking when Duan Tingxuan laughed, “Are you trying to use your position as prince to oppress me? Look over there. See that? That person sitting on the floor just tried to use his position as crown prince to oppress me, well? What are you going to do now?”
“Just how did we fell in with such an evildoer?” the second prince pressed his chest dramatically. “Brother crown prince, this is provocation, ah. If you don’t crush this behaviour quickly, you’ll be oppressed by him in return. Brother please think thrice, ah!” this kind of talk was basically treated as nonsense between the princes and Duan Tingxuan, this showed just how accepted Duan Tingxuan was into the royal family.
As expected, the crown prince began to snort and below like a pig from the side, “You think I’m stupid? You dare borrow my strength to do your dirty work? My little life is now in Tingxuan’s hands. I dare not offend him, especially not when he’d promised me more of cousin-in-law’s cooking.”
“Tingxuan, how could you be so bias? Aren’t I your cousin too?” the second prince immediately turned sad, solemn eyes at him. Only to see the little lord marquis declared, “I am but a beast.”
“Haha! So what? Aren’t we all beasts here? According to Confucius, Man is but a higher level beasts. Therefore, we are all beasts!” Jiang Changning laughed as he heartily smacked Duan Tingxuan’s shoulder.
Duan Tingxuan cast a side way glance at him, “You dare say this in front of the scholars of Cai university? Just when did Confucius ever said this? Why don’t you just run your mouth a bit more?”
“That… I just know it,” Jiang Changning awkwardly coughed twice into his fist. Cai University was equivalent to the Imperial Hanlin College. Moreover, Imperial Teacher Fang Zheng was an extremely serious individual, if the fourth prince ever spout such nonsense in front of him, he would have been beaten until his face resembled a bun.
“Your highness, it’s meal time now. Would your highness be taking your meal here or at the Autumn Water Pavilion?” the court eunuchs approached for instructions. The Autumn Water Pavilion was situated in a luxurious pavilion in the middle of a small lake in the garden. With all four sides facing water, it was the best place to have a meal in the middle of summer.
The crown prince wiped his sweaty face and said, “Let’s just have it here. Who wants to walk another two or three miles over to Autumn Water Pavilion?”
The eunuch bowed and left to ready the meal. Soon, servants came over with a large bathtub and several screens. With the bathtub screened off, the crown prince took his bath. Under the emperor’s edict, even the crown prince’s bath water was infused with medicinal herbs that would relax the muscles, relieve fatigue as well as reduce the stink of sweat.
Once he was done with his bath, a table had been set up inside the small training ground. Under the setting sun, a table full of dishes could be seen. The prince rubbed his tummy and thought that this was certainly the best time of a meal and came forward.
He sat down, and blinked. Well, the table certainly was filled with bowls and plates of food, but, what’s this, ah? Vinegared Chinese Cabbage , Carrot & Wood Ear Stir Fry , Leek Omelette, Spinach Salad… he peered into the soup, and saw nothing but bamboo shoots swimming in the depths. Not a single piece of meat was to be seen.
“This… is this the vegetarian meal cousin-in-law made for me?” the crown prince nearly flipped the table in anger: This is taking a joke too far, right? This is completely different from the food served from Kunning Palace’s kitchen, isn’t it? Moreover, anyone could tell at first glance just what these are made of. Where is the mock chicken? The mock duck? And the mock beef? Is this all there is?
“These are all vegetarian food from the East Palace kitchens. The day after tomorrow is my maternal grandmother’s birthday. Nuan Nuan is now so busy that her feet barely touched the floor. When would she have the time to make mock ducks or mock chicken? Your highness, please endure, once grandmother’s birthday is over, she’ll definitely make them for you.” Duan Tingxuan smiled bitterly as he eyed the table full of vegetarian dishes and thought: You still want to grumble? I’m the most unfortunate one, you know? Why do I have to eat this thing with you? Wu! I better leave quickly once the meal is over, I might be able to catch a midnight snack at Spring Breeze Court. Ah, I hope we have little wontons tonight. En, Meatball Soup is good too.
He was still dreaming about his midnight snack when Jiang Changning and Jiang Changjing both exploded, “What kind of excuse is that? Even if we’re both frequent guests here, you can’t serve us nothing but vegetables, right? No, no, no, how can this be consider a meal? There’s not even a single crumb of meat. Crown prince bro, you hang in there, we’ll leave first.”
“What’s with that self righteous tone?”
The crown prince was so angry that he was close to losing his temper. Duan Tingxuan laughingly interrupted him. “Your highness, you just let those two go, ba. Once they’re gone, we can have the Snow Cream all to ourselves. If they’re here, we’ll have to share. I really don’t want to do that, ah.”
The two princes who had just stepped out of the courtyard suddenly rushed back in with a ‘bang!’. “Snow Cream? What’s that thing? Could it be the Smoothie? Hehe, well, well, my chefs can make that too.”
“That’s right, that’s right, it’s just Smoothie. So, you two just go away, ba. We’re planning to have a bowl of Smoothie after dinner to cheer ourselves up.” being an intelligent person, there was no need for Duan Tingxuan to further elaborate his plan to the crown prince. Unfortunately, he was surrounded by foxes. Foxes young and old. How could he hope to brush these sly, cunning, clever, witty things with just words?
The two princes sat down excitedly. They eyed the table full of East Palace vegetarian food and began to force themselves to gobble up the spread: What kind of joke is this? Cousin-in-law already proven her skills through Smoothie, Roasted Duck, Beggar’s Chicken, White Sealed Meat, Snow Soft Bean Paste Snacks… which one of these line up is not amazingly delicious? Now that a mysterious character called Snow Cream had shown itself, how could they miss out this opportunity to greet it?
The crown prince too forced himself swallow the much hated vegetables. How disgusting, ah. But what could he do? He, too, realized that his body weight was a liability to his health. If he didn’t take steps to fix it now, he might not live long enough to take over the throne. How could he just fail imperial father and all the court official’s expectations?
Thus, for his son, for imperial father, for his subjects and the people he would rule over in the future, he must persevere. With such thoughts in mind, the crown prince’s chopsticks flew like a storm of flying spears as his teeth mashed through carrots and cabbages as though he was crushing the bones of his most hated enemy.
For a bunch of ancient men who had no knowledge of what Cream was, just the barest hint that there was some new sweet treat to eat was enough to grab their stomachs. The charm of ice cream could not be pinned down, especially in this hot, sweltering weather. They all sat around the newly cleared table, daintily scooping tiny spoonfuls of Snow Cream into their mouths as they idly chatted.
“Tingxuan, ah. How’s the preparation for your maternal grandmother’s birthday? I haven’t heard you mention anything about it, surely it’s not going to be some simple affair? How could you be so unfilial?” said the crown prince casually as he nibbled another mouthful of Snow Cream. The Snow Cream had negated the resentful fire in his stomach caused by those awful vegetables.
[Gumihou: The crown prince is truly pitiful, ah]
 yellow river of death – to die
 Huoxiang Zhenqi Liquid – Made from Chinese classic herbal formula, good for reducing heat and regulates the spleen and stomach – You can actually buy these online
 Imperial Hanlin College – Founded in the 8th century and lasted until 1911 when a fire severely damaged it during the Siege of Foreign Legations
 Vinegar Chinese Cabbage – by Chef Wang
 Carrot & Wood Ear Stir Fry
Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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